I rediscover audiobooks. If you haven’t tried them to make housework less incredibly boring, you really should. I listen to the rest of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, which honestly leaves me with more questions than answers but that’s okay sometimes, and Walk Through Walls by Marina Abramovic, among several others, which is now one of my all-time favorite books. I love artist memoirs. I buy an instant camera at the beginning of May right around the time I accidentally kill my beta fish, Supertramp II, while cleaning his bowl. I am very distraught about Supertramp for a few days because I know it was my fault even though it was an accident. It felt wrong burying a fish in the ground. I become obsessed with the show, I Love Dick. I like it even better than Transparent. On May 4th a new neighbor moves in across the hall from us. At first I’m very upset because her baby screams loudly and often, then I buy some noise-cancelling headphones and the new neighbor and I become friends.
I set a goal for myself: learn a something new about Photoshop or Lightroom everyday, but only do it some days. I get super into into a to-do list app that’s recommended to me by a fellow creative. I have folders for “Life,” “Being An Artist” and “Spiritual Things” that are full of lists, then separate lists for “Eventually,” “Daily Rituals,” and “Scheduled Things.” Having the app makes me so much more productive, less bored and less lonely. I realize that I have a hard time telling the difference between boredom and loneliness and this revelation helps me a lot – I start to stay busier.
I begin the process of curating my internet-home (this website) in May and finish at the end of June. It hurts in some nostalgic way to take images I love down but I know they aren’t the strongest images I have anymore, my site simply has too much on it and I have them all backed-up - so they aren’t gone forever, just for now.
I take a lot of photographs in May because I am still doing the 365 project until I get to around day 98 out of the 365. Then I make a conscious decision to stop because I don’t like it anymore and I’m making really shitty art because I’m doing it when I am not motivated to/passionate about it. I prefer to photograph when the light catches my eye or I feel the need to. I need both more and less discipline in my life somehow at the same time and finding the right amount/type of structure is difficult but also a fun experiment. I settle on scheduling things when they need to be but mostly structuring my days around extensive to-do lists, adding to them whenever I think of something I could/should do, and doing things when I am in the right head-space to do them. I might do a more specific 365 project in the future, more of a pet project and less out of desperation.
I cry a lot on Mother’s Day but by now I can't remember why.
I begin toying with the idea of making video recordings of myself reading my new manuscript, Mercurial, and publishing them online instead of making it another physical book. I am hungry for new mediums/creative outlets because digital photography and my writing are both starting to feel a little stale to me.
I do a lot of gardening and consider it one of my creative outlets. I feel like an amateur horticulturist. I re-pot the plant Edward’s grandmother, who passed away recently, gave me two Decembers ago into a bigger container and move it to a place with more light so it can thrive. I run out of places in our apartment to put new plants. There are lots in every room except the kitchen and they’re all over the balcony, too. I literally run out of semi-secure surfaces with the right amount of light to put them on. I take a break from buying new plants and start taking more meticulous care of the ones I have already. I grow kale, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs in my balcony garden that Edward and I use in our cooking experiments. I’m a much bigger fan of kale than he is. Also, nutritional yeast.
I have to go to several doctor’s appointments and am a ball of anxiety before all of them but they all turn out to be good news and the doctors are mostly kind.
Edward and I go to Ruby Falls and Rock City as a day-trip. We leave Sam with Edward’s mother at her house and she spoils him so badly that he isn’t more than two feet away from her all day and she doesn’t eat while he’s there because he’s good at pretending to be pathetic and she doesn’t want him to be scared or lonely in “a new place,” where he has been many, many times. It’s extra sweet because when we first adopted him Edward was afraid to tell his mother we’d gotten a second dog for some reason and when he told her she said something like “That’s fine but I don’t want him to end up living at my house.” Now she’s had a new fence built for him around her backyard so we can “drop him off whenever we need to" and she has so much fun with him when we bring the pups over most Saturdays – playing fetch, running around with him and getting slobbered on. He drools a lot because he has some serious jowls but we love him because he’s the biggest sweetheart and such a gentle giant. We call him “Samoo” as a joke because his coat is similar in color to an orca and because he makes a weird mooing sound whenever he wants attention but isn’t getting it. Our dogs have a lot of nicknames – the main ones are very simple though: “The Big Dog” and “The Little Dog.” When Edward and I get home from somewhere we ask each other, “Guess who’s going to be excited to see us?” People truly don’t deserve dogs. I need no more proof of a higher power than the existence of dogs.
I make two new friends - a gay couple who are a few years younger than me but also have bipolar disorder. I spend a lot of time with them for a few weeks before I realize they aren’t actually the best fit for me. We go to a carnival in the rain with them and Edward wins me a stuffed animal by throwing things in one of the games.
I make another friend who is a better fit for me. She’s a fellow photographer, closer to my age and is also into spiritual things. We meet sometimes to work on our creative projects together. We meet sometimes just for lunch or coffee or smoothies and sometimes she comes over to our place and we just hang out and talk about everything. She comes over and we watch The Space In Between together. It’s so much more fun to watch with someone else than alone. I feel like she and I are kindred spirits.
My mammoth sunflower seeds sprout in the blue, glazed pot Edward’s mother buys for me and I am as excited as a child on Christmas Eve. I grew mammoth sunflowers way back in 2011 outside of the Wash U Co-Op but haven’t seen any since. Then I accidentally get bug-spray on them one night and they are dead dead dead by the morning. I stir the soil and plant more seeds and they grow quickly because it’s now the time of year in Birmingham when it rains a lot. I am glad the soil itself isn’t poisoned.
I combine the “Diary” and “Other Creative Pursuits” blogs on this site because it’s getting hard to tell the difference between my life and my creative process/practices.
I take Sam and Lena for a walk together and get a lot of comments from strangers about their size difference. Sam is 130-140lbs and Lena is 8.5.
On the last night of May I drink with Edward and do some late-night post-champagne gardening. I’m in heaven.
Edward finishes his first year of medical school and starts his summer research position in early June. He mostly works from home and it’s great having him around more even if he is working a lot of the time. We work on the couch together until I build a little work/artist/spiritual space for myself in the bedroom alcove.
I have a hypomanic episode in June but it’s the fun kind where I don’t do much damage. I am terrified of a long and dark depression happening afterwards because of how long the hypomania goes on but my doctor says he doesn’t think that’ll happen because of the medications I’m currently on. I hope he’s right. It’s only the second time I’ve been hypomanic since Edward and I have been together, though I’ve had many episodes of depression in that time. People with type II bipolar disorder tend to get a lot more depressive episodes than hypomanic ones.
The hypomania gives me insomnia and it reaches the point where I have lots of energy but am only sleeping about 4 hours a night but by the end of June I am back to getting 8+ hours thanks to medication adjustments and, if I do wake up too soon, I can go back to sleep for another few hours because I am not alarmingly conscious as soon as my eyes open. I am, once again, groggy in the mornings until my coffee kicks in.
I buy a deck of Tarot cards with artwork like that of Klimt on them and they’re beautiful.
I buy crazy kaleidoscope glasses at Golden Temple with my new kindred-spirit friend and download an app for stargazing. It tells you what you’re looking at in the sky using GPS. Edward and I drive a few hours away from Birmingham to look at the stars and moon one night. We see Jupiter brightly and clearly. It’s a magical evening.
I propagate my philodendron plant multiple times. I worry about my student loan payments that will start in July. I make shadow boxes. We puppy-sit Nico, who belongs to one of Edward’s friends from high school and is quite a handful. As much fun as puppies are, Nico makes me glad Sam is a year old now. I quit smoking. I have an app that keeps track of my time quit/money saved/etc but I look at it less and less often as I get further into being quit.
I watch and re-watch “Oh, Hello On Broadway,” so many times – it’s right up my alley. I make an inventory of all of my plants. We get tipsy and try to figure out what dog breeds Sam and Lena are mixes of using Google image searches. Our best guesses are lab/great dane and chihuahua/beagle/terrier combinations. I’m happy that Sam doesn’t seem like a purebred dane because it means he will live longer and be healthier. I start my “Other Side” photography series. I send Mercurial to some fellow writers for feedback and it gets positive reviews but I put off recording the videos because it’s such a vulnerable collection of words to share online.
I start going to a reiki circle once a week and book an energy consultation for the beginning of July. Edward and I finally make it up to Vulcan Park on top of Red Mountain to watch the sunset.